Thursday, October 23, 2014

English 1A

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English 1B (Tues./Thurs. class)

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English 1B (Mon./Wed. class)

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English 7 (Inscape)

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Friday, October 17, 2014


Brandon Todd is one of the shortest men in the world capable of dunking a basketball.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

1B: Cultural Criticism: High Culture? Low Culture?

Self-Portraits by Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69) of Leiden, Netherlands

New Yorker cartoon (June 9, 2014) by Roz Chast (b. 1954) of Brooklyn, New York

American basketball player Brittney Griner (b. Oct. 18, 1990) in her WNBA debut in 2013

Russian ballerina  Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) performing "The Dying Swan" in 1907

Maglite advertisement in art museum (2009)
See more examples of art and advertising.
Masterpiece (1962) by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-97)
More about Pop Art at MOMA.

Snoop Dogg (b. Oct. 20, 1971) and Tupac Shakur (1971-96) hologram at Coachella (2014)
 Vincenzo Scalera (b. date unknown) and  Juan Diego Flórez  (b. 1973) at Carnegie Hall (2008)

Elvis I and II (1963)  by Andy Warhol
Nine Elvis impersonators

 Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) began work on The Gates of Hell in 1880.
 It includes The Poet, later commonly known as The Thinker.
 The Thinker can be found around the world, and there is a Thinker at the
  Norton Simon Museum, facing Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.
 It is available for viewing 24 hours a day.
Bob's Big Boys at a Bob's Big Boy graveyard.
The Bob's Big Boy chain was established in 1936.
There is a Bob's Big Boy in Burbank, CA.
It is open for service 24 hours a day.

Huck Finn and Jim, detail from mural (1935 ) by Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975)
 based on Mark Twain's (1835-1910) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
The Lone Lone Ranger and Tonto,
color still from Stuart Heisler's movie The Lone Ranger (1956)

Friedmann Hauss' Laetitia Casta for the magazine Elle France (1998), left,
 and Johannes Vermeer’s ( Dutch. 1632-75) Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665).

Who played the girl with a pearl earring in the 2003 film of the same name?
 The film was based on  the 1999 novel by Tracy Chevalier.

Is the  graphic novel a merging of high and low culture? See for yourself.
 Images from Art Spiegelman's Maus, a summary of it, and how it came to be.
Images from Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, and a summary of it.
Peter Kuper's adaptation of Kafka's The Metamorphosis

What is Cultural Criticism?
Some definitions oo the topic: Ross MurfinJohanna M. Smith & Ross C. Murfin, and the Poetry Foundation. [Note: the Ross Murfin, and Smith/Murfin are the same; just different credits for the same article, for some reason.]

1A: CONOVER (1958--) & COYOTES

Coyotes was published in 1987

CONOVER'S website:

CONOVER talk (March 2010 Presentation) with links to text and video clips @ Zocalo Public Square
[Note: if Zocalo link does not take you there, try search at Zocalo home page.]

This interview was conducted in 2011. Conover published Coyotes in 1987.

CONOVER continues to write.  Here are two other recent articles of his:

Conover wrote "A Snitch’s Dilemma," about Alex White for The New York Times Magazine, June 29, 2012.  If there was ever a "secrets, lies and spies" story, this is it. Here's the first paragraph:

"Kathryn Johnston was doing pretty well until the night the police showed up. Ever since her sister died, Johnston, 92, had lived alone in a rough part of Atlanta called the Bluff. A niece checked in often. One of the gifts she left was a pistol, so that her aunt might protect herself."

If you like, read the rest of Conover's story about Alex "the Snitch" White, a member of the Black Mafia Family, and "Behind the Cover Story: Ted Conover on the Murky World of the Snitch" for Conover's point-of-view about his article.

Conover also has a report on a slaughterhouse in Harper's, May 2013. 

From Harper's May 2013 issue
The Way of All Flesh
Undercover in an industrial slaughterhouse
By Ted Conover

Here's the first two paragraphs:

The cattle arrive in perforated silver trailers called cattle pots that let in wind and weather and vent out their hot breath and flatus. It’s hard to see inside a cattle pot. The drivers are in a hurry to unload and leave, and are always speeding by. (When I ask Lefty how meat gets bruised, he says, “You ever see how those guys drive?”) The trucks have come from feedlots, some nearby, some in western Nebraska, a few in Iowa. The plant slaughters about 5,100 cattle each day, and a standard double-decker cattle pot holds only about forty, so there’s a constant stream of trucks pulling in to disgorge, even before the line starts up a little after six a.m.

First the cattle are weighed. Then they are guided into narrow outdoor pens angled diagonally toward the entrance to the kill floor. A veterinarian arrives before our shift and begins to inspect them; she looks for open wounds, problems walking, signs of disease. When their time comes, the cattle will be urged by workers toward the curving ramp that leads up into the building. The ramp has a roof and no sharp turns. It was designed by the livestock expert Temple Grandin, and the curves and penumbral light are believed to soothe the animals in their final moments. But the soothing goes only so far.

The story continues at Harper's, but it only offers limited access to its magazine online, including the above Conover article. You may be able to find the full-text through EbscoHost, a database available through the PCC Shatford Library.

John Moore/Getty Images
A flag marks the spot where the remains of a person believed
 to have been an immigrant were found in Falfurrias, Texas, in May 2013.
Published in The New York Times, September 22, 2013

NEWS from the BORDER
"Bodies on the Border" by Marc Silver, The New York Times, August 17, 2013:
This summer, as discussions have advanced around a comprehensive immigration reform bill, I traveled to Arizona to film some people who have a unique perspective on border security. I followed Dr. Bruce Anderson, a forensic anthropologist with the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, who has worked to identify the remains of some 2,200 people found dead in the Arizona desert since 1990 — undocumented migrants who attempted to cross illicitly from Central America and Mexico into the United States. And I followed Robin Reineke, a University of Arizona doctoral student in anthropology who founded the Missing Migrant Project, a nongovernmental organization that helps families look for their missing relatives.

To read this article and watch a selection from Silver's film click here. or click on this link issued is covered further in "Bodies Pile Up in Texas as Immigrants Adopt New Routes Over Border", The New York Times, September 22, 2013.

"At the Border, on the Night Watch" by Marc Lacey, The New York Times, October 12, 2011

DOUGLAS, Ariz. — The lanky young man with two bales of marijuana slung over his back who was apprehended by Border Patrol agents in a rugged area about a mile from the border here one recent night represented both the significant strides the country has made in controlling its southern border and the challenges that remain.

To read the rest of this article, click here.

The Heartache of an Immigrant Family

LOS ANGELES — WHEN we talk about immigration to America, we tell a hopeful story about courage and sacrifice. But that story obscures the fact that, especially for the poor, immigration is often a traumatizing event, one that tears families apart.

Consider the experience of one family, originally from Honduras. In 1989, Lourdes Pineda was the single mother of a 5-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl. She sold tortillas, plantains and used clothes door to door, but barely earned enough to feed her children, and feared not being able to send them to school past the sixth grade. So she made the painful decision to leave them behind in Honduras, and found work in the United States as a nanny, taking care of other people’s children.

To read the rest of this article, go to The Heartache of an Immigrant Family

from The New York Times, April 4, 2013
No More 'Illegal Immigrants'
by Lawrence Downes

The Associated Press has changed its stylebook entry on the term “illegal immigrant.”  It now reads, in part:

“Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant.”

The new usage should quickly become apparent to readers of the thousands of newspapers and news web sites that follow, or try to follow, the AP’s rules.

Read the rest of this New York Times article here.
Also, the "L.A. Times updates guidelines for covering immigration".

10 miles east of Douglas, Ariz. by Aldo Zúñiga, May 2012 (The New York Times)
More New York Times readers photographs of the border can be found here.


PLEASE NOTE FILM:  Janeen Gonzalez of 1A recommended a documentary, American Harvest, that touches on the same themes Ted Conover presents in Coyotes.  To learn more about American Harvest, you can go to its website or watch an 18 minute video  from it.  (Thanks, Janeen!)

PLEASE NOTE FILM #2: Yadira Easley, 1A student and a great fan of documentaries, told me about this one, Life and Death on the Border, that is a perfect film complement to Coyotes.   (Thanks, Yadira!)

PLEASE NOTE MORE FILMS about the immigrant experience. These were recommended by English 1A students Jose Quiroz, Cindy Huerta,  Christine Ching,  and Mathieu Mathet. (Am I forgetting anyone?) The films: Under the Same Moon, Crossing Over, Sin Nombre, and Cavite.) A big thank you to Jose, Cindy, Christine and Mathieu!



You may print these out, if you like

1. Discuss the section “A Note on Translation”. Why would Conover use the terms “illegal alien” and “undocumented” when he says that he tries “to avoid both labels.” Why would the term “illegal aliens” appear in the subtitle? What term do you prefer to use—“illegal aliens,” “undocumented worker,” etc., to describe the subjects of the book. Explain.

2. See page xviii and the first full paragraph and the following sentence: “What La Migra does not know—what it perhaps cannot afford to know—is the more human side of the men and women it arrests, the drama of their lives.” What is Conover’s point here? In which ways does Conover's book best address the "human side." Why?

3. After Conover says “What La Migra . . . “ (as quoted #2, above), he makes a distinction between a story and a policy book. Though he claims he is only writing the former, explain the difference between the terms. Based on what you’ve read so far, do you agree with Conover that his book is mainly a story? Or not? Why? What impact do you think his book could have on American immigration policy?

4. Conover could have opened his book in many different ways. He could have told his reader about how he prepared for this writing assignment, or his trip to Mexico from the United States, or where he grew up, among other approaches. Why do you think he selected Alonso to open Coyotes? How would you describe the relationship between Alonso and Conover?

5. Point out at least three different examples of Conover’s and the workers’ reaction to police officers (and other uniformed personnel.) Explain how these different reactions may or may not be the central conflict that Conover faces as a reporter. Note his experience with Alonso crossing the border, with Carlos and the others at the airports, and additional examples that you identify.

6. By the end of “The Gringo and the Mexicano” chapter—and subsequent chapters—do you trust Conover as a reporter? You must point to specific examples to support your position.

7. By befriending the Mexican workers as a reporter and telling their story, has Conover intruded on their lives strictly for his own benefit? Discuss your position with specific examples from the book.

8. Why does Conover describe the workers on page 42 as “professionals”? Do you agree with his assessment? Why or Why not?

9. Point out examples where Conover is naïve. Does this quality help or harm him as he works as a reporter? Explain.

10. In the “Welcome to L.A.” chapter Conover describes the relationships between different racial groups. Point out at least three stereotypes—and the notion of “team”—that he faces and describes in the chapter. Does he succeed in upending these stereotypes through his reporting? Explain.

11. Conover published this book in 1987. Does the “Welcome to L.A.” chapter present a different society, especially with regard to race and the “team,”  than what you know about race issues today in Los Angeles County? Discuss.

12. Discuss at least three things that surprised you about Coyotes and the story Conover has told.

13. Define the notion of work in your own words. Illustrate your definition with several examples from Coyotes.

We don't have time review in-class "Making the Border Less Enticing to Cross," which appeared in the Los Angeles Times, April 8, 2012.  But read it if you have a chance.  On the same page, see links to other articles regarding immigration.

Questions posted by English 1A, Fall 2012:

Anna Dawahara, Michelle Burton, Rick Thurnell, Christine Ching:

1.) Compare the ways women are treated in Ahuacatlan and the ways Conover treats women. (p. 158, 165)

2.) What are the Mexican's expectations for America? (p. 138-139)

William Cheng, Rebeka Carrasco, Jose Quirzo:

1. On page 86, Carlos says to Conover "Welcome to LA! Welcome to the Hispanic team!" After hearing this statement which side do you believe Ted is on? Neutral or Biased side.

2. Throughout the book both the coyotes and the Mexican police are predators and prey on the weak. What are some of the things they did and how? Did it change your perspective of the undocumented workers? What other struggles not mentioned in the book do you believe the workers may have had to gone through just to get these low paying jobs in the US?

Jodi Shou, Alex Garcia, Cindy Huerta,Valerie Arellano:

1. How does Conover seem to earn the trust of groups, such as the orchard pickers, so easily? What makes it so easy for him to integrate into another person's lifestyle? Offer at least five examples from the book.  (Pg. 36, etc.)

2. In the "The Gringo and the Mexican" chapter, Conover is denied a construction job while Alonso, his undocumented friend, is offered it. How does Conover take it and what does his reaction show? Does this seem like an accurate response for the opposition to immigration policies? (Pg. 28-29)

Jon, Jactel, Tarik and 1 more student:

1. Conover is repeatedly met with suspicion, and mistrust again and again from Mexicans and coyotes (16, 56). However, he consistently seems to win them over. What is it about Conover that makes him seem trustworthy? What does it say about the Mexican workers that they are willing to trust Conover?

2. Why was Conover never directly accused of being a smuggler or a coyote, but his Mexican companions are met with constant suspicion? Taruk, Jaquetelle, Jon, and we had one more, but we did not write our names down. on English 1A: CONOVER & COYOTES

from McCabe:

1. Humorous moments appear in Conover's Coyotes.  Identify five humorous moments in the book, and explain how humor helps Conover's desire to show the "human side of the men and women [the INS] arrests, the drama of their lives" (xviii).

Conover with some of the men who crossed
at Sonoita, AZ, north of Nogales, Mexico

1B: T.C. Boyle (b. Dec. 2, 1948)

Boyle in Santa Barbara, 2003. Photograph by Spencer Boyle
T.C. Boyle biography

Where to start to learn about T.C. Boyle? First, let's see what the T.C. stands for.  His full name: Tom Coraghessan Boyle. (His middle name is pronounced cor-RAG-a-sen) ) He grew up in upstate New York, earned his B.A. at State University of New York at Potsdam (1968), an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (1974) and Ph.D. in English (1977), both at the University of Iowa.  He has published over a dozen novels and about ten short story collections.  His work has been very well-received (granted over 40 awards and honors), and he has taught creative writing at the University of Southern California since 1978.  You can learn more about him at his official website.  There is the usual stuff like a biography, list of his books, and photographs of book jackets and him.

A unexpected treat can be found at his multimedia page with him and his former bandmates covering classic songs by Chuck Berry, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and others. His band, called The Ventilators (not to be confused with the ska/reggae group of the same name), played in the 1980s. The New York Times, "Sometimes, alone and stone drunk, Boyle cranks Bruce Springsteen or plays his saxophone at neighbor-vexing volume, recalling the glory days a few years ago when he sang for a band called the Ventilators, his voice vaguely reminiscent of the Animals' Eric Burdon. Very vaguely." A favorite for me, his version of The Animals' "I'm Crying." Is it punk rock? Garage rock? You decide. You tell me. I don't trust my "friends" on Facebook. More information about Boyle--his life as a writer,  can be found at All About T. Coraghessan Boyle Resource Center.  At this site he also talks about his love of music. Here's what he had to say:

"I always listen to music while working, and that working music is either classical or jazz. When I'm not working I listen to rock and roll, which has been the most informative music of my life. Classical: my heroes are Puccini, J.S. Bach, Borodin, Wagner, Shostakovich, Copland, et al. (there are so many). I'm not a great lover of symphonic music--I prefer chamber music, moody cello concerti, etc. As for jazz, it's primarily Coltrane, the first great artist I was able to recognize as consciousness began to arise in my feeble brain. As for rock: I love current bands, as well as the Blues and rock of the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and oughts. Many are referenced in my various stories and novels [Lou Reed, Springsteen, Robert Johnson., etc]."

Boyle with an unidentified young lady in 1973.
 Photograph by Alan Arkawy in Garrison, New York.

T.C. Boyle influences
Boyle ranks Flannery O'Connor and Gabriel García Márquez among the most influential writers on his work. Regarding O'Connor: "[L]et us not forget Flannery O'Connor. I discovered her as an undergraduate (for an adjective-rich description of your not-so-humble narrator at the time, see above). I was in a literature class--the Contemporary Short Story or some such. And she, the most remarkable American writer of the '50s, was where she so assuredly deserved to be--enshrined in a fat anthology. The story was 'A Good Man is Hard to Find', and it remains my favorite of all time, though certain pieces by the Three Cs (Cheever, Carver, and Coover) give it a run for the money. This story seems to me perfect in its radical synthesis of the horrific and the hilarious. I've read it a hundred times and I still laugh aloud at the scheming and senile grandmother, the howling brats, and the henpecked Bailey, and find the scene in which the grandmother's cat (Pitty Sing) attaches itself to the back of Bailey's neck, thus fomenting the accident, both chilling and (yes) wickedly funny. What ensues is a morality play that chills me right down to the black pit of my black heart. Accident rules the world, accident and depravity, and I don't have O'Connor's faith to save me from all that. " (Source: Reinhard Donat's webpage.)

A visit with Boyle. He talks about his books, readers,
 and living in a Frank Lloyd Wright home.

He had this to say about Gabriel García Márquez: "The book that spoke to me then was imagined by my enduring hero, Gabriel García Márquez, and it is One Hundred Years of Solitude. Many before me have spoken of its magisterial blend of magic, humor, and history, so I will let all that slide and address one of García Márquez's short stories that appeared around that time in the New American Review, "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings." This is the story of a decrepit angel coming for a sick child in a storm on the Caribbean coast of Cólombia. The storm drives him down out of the sky to land in a very unangelic heap in the backyard of the child's parents, where he is confined in a chicken house, amongst the other winged and feathered creatures. The story is a sly (and yes, wicked) satire of the forms and strictures of the Catholic church, and it places the miraculous in the context of the ordinary--again, just as in real life. And oh yes, when I think of that story and that book, I can't help recalling the doggy smell of the stone gatehouse--we had three magnificent and magnificently stinking dogs at the time--and of the great leaping blazes we would build nightly in the old fireplace to keep the frost at bay." (Source:  Reinhard Donat's webpage.)

Boyle, his "Balto," and the Balto

Balto, celebrity Husky

from Nature on PBS
Sled Dogs: An Alaskan Epic

"In 1925, a life-or-death race to rescue the children of Nome, AK, from disease made an international hero of one sled dog — and eventually led to the creation of Alaska’s Iditarod sled dog race, the subject of Nature's Sled Dogs: An Alaskan Epic. 

"In January 1925, doctors realized that a potentially deadly diphtheria epidemic was poised to sweep through Nome’s young people. The only serum that could stop the outbreak was in Anchorage, nearly a thousand miles away. But the lone aircraft that could quickly deliver the medicine had been dismantled for the winter. In desperation, officials turned to a much lower-tech solution: moving the medicine by sled dog."

You can learn more about Balto at the episode's site.

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has a brochure about Balto and the serum run. 

Binh Nguyen of our Summer 2014 English 1B made a great find.
  It's a History Channel video called "Four Legged Heroes: Togo & Balto,"
 all about the heroic Husky. What a pleasure it is to watch! Thanks, Binh, for sharing this with us. 

There is also a documentary, "The Making of 'Balto',"that came out in 1995 in conjunction with the animated film.  The documentary, which appears above, includes selected animation from the film, interviews with the animators, and remembrances of those who knew of the epidemic or Balto, the lead dog of the dog sled that delivered the serum.  One musher working today, Joe Garnie,  describes in the documentary (at 20:35) the necessary characteristics of a lead dog.  The most important trait for the dog to have, he believes, "is honesty. . . . Your life depends on your lead dog and for that it is having that connection with the animal. It is having that love for each other, and you trust each other. And it is just being honest."

Boyle in Santa Barbara, 2000. Photograph by Michael Montfort.

T.C. Boyle interview with the Paris Review
Boyle was interviewed by The Paris Review for their Art of Fiction series, Number 161, Summer 2000. In it he repeats his affection for García Márquez. He, Boyle asserts, "is one of the best writers alive." Here's an excerpt from the interview with Boyle's thoughts about his family and the autobiographical in his writing:

INTERVIEWER: Was your family supportive of your writing?

BOYLE: My father and mother were both working class, my mother educated through high school, my father through the eighth grade. I went to school in Westchester County, New York, with people whose parents were educated and wealthy in comparison to us, but my parents always gave me all the advantages the wealthier students had. My parents made me feel the equal of anyone; they were very supportive no matter what I wanted to do. I will say that my mother never understood, I don’t think, really, what I wrote—she was very bright, well-read, but it’s just that parents have a difficult time understanding their children’s art. I read her the Lassie story, which I think is one of the funniest stories I’ve ever written, and she never cracked a smile. When I finished, she said, That was very moving.

INTERVIEWER: What about your father? You dedicated World’s End “in memory of my own lost father.” Can you talk about that?

BOYLE: My father died at fifty-four of alcoholism. A suicide, actually. A slow suicide. He had been raised in an orphanage. I never really knew him very well, although he lived with us until he died. He was very morose. My mother tells me that his personality had been a lot like mine—that is, antic and playful, with a rich appreciation for the absurd—but something happened to him during the war (he drove a tank in the Seventh Armored Division during the Normandy Invasion) that made him very depressed. I was an extremely rebellious and disaffected adolescent, and I never really had a chance to come to that rapprochement with your parents that you can have when you get a little older. He was dead before anything like that could happen. So I dedicated the novel (which involves a search for a father, not in an autobiographical sense, but in a metaphorical sense) to him.

INTERVIEWER: How old were you when your father died?

BOYLE: Twenty-five.

INTERVIEWER: Is your mother still alive?

BOYLE: No, she’s dead too. Alcohol also claimed her.

INTERVIEWER: How autobiographical is your writing? And in what way?

BOYLE: To me, a story is an exercise of the imagination, and most of my work comes out of that spirit of game-playing or puzzle-solving, as I said earlier. I was and still am very taken with the playful work of writers like Borges, Nabokov, Calvino. So the short answer is, very little is autobiographical. But because I try to keep myself open to all the possibilities, I exclude no form or mode. Some of my best-known stories have autobiographical elements—“Greasy Lake,” “If the River Was Whisky,” “Back in the Eocene”—but they are inventions in which the autobiographical elements have been radically transformed.

INTERVIEWER: How does having a family affect your writing habits?

BOYLE: Having a family has been very good for me (and I hope good for them too). It gave me the stability I needed to begin and pursue a career as a writer. People tend to romanticize the picture of a writer—they want it to be easy, something a genius can just knock off between debauches, because if it is, if it doesn’t require talent, discipline and a lifelong commitment, then maybe there’s a hope that they, too, someday can knock out their own great and stirring work. We have the devastating example before us of the overwhelming numbers of American writers destroyed by dope and booze—Tom Dardis’s The Thirsty Muse is a real eye-opener—and people tend to think that chemically altering one’s mind is the way to inspiration. Maybe it is. But for me it seems counterproductive. I have never written a sentence—or even thought of writing a sentence—without being in the clearest state of mind. This is my life’s work. This is what I’m meant to do, and why screw with it? I think the way to be a writer is to experience things, certainly, and be open to things, but at some point to become dedicated to the craft of writing and to create a stable environment for that writing to occur in. At least in my case that’s true. So having a family and leading a stable life is absolutely essential to any writing I’ve ever done. When I did my earliest writing, I led a pretty wild life, and the writing was fairly spotty. I would write occasionally. Now I write every day, seven days a week, all year long. And it is my life.

To read all of the Boyle interview click here.

A Boyle interview: "I Don't Give Talks, I Give Perfomances." 
Published by The Guardian, Aug. 17, 2011 

T. C. Boyle in The New York Times
The New York Times has written extensively about Boyle. Click this  to find your way to the many reviews and articles published about Boyle in the Times. They also published a magazine article about him in 1990. It is laudatory of his talents, claiming that "Boyle [has] finally yoked his arrogance of talent and his wintry outlook to characters who weren't mere toys but men and women bouncing with emotional depth and ferment. Critics' comparisons of Boyle to his polestars William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, formerly hyperbolic, suddenly tiptoed into the outskirts of plausibility."

The profile mentions one of his his awards. "World's End, which considered the ill-omened strivings of three Dutch and American Indian families across 300 years, was an ambitious attempt to do for Boyle's native Hudson River Valley in one novel what Faulkner did for his fictional Yoknapatawpha County in 14, and it won the PEN/Faulkner award for American Fiction in 1988. Says the novelist Russell Banks, one of the PEN/ Faulkner-prize judges: "'What knocked me out was the book's ambition. It took him out of the category of witty, clever social satire and put him in another league. He reached for the moon, and maybe he didn't get it all, but he risked the talent, and that's a scary thing to do.'"

Boyle and Frank Lloyd Wright
Boyle and his family live in a home designed by the celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) and built near Santa Barbara in 1909. CBS Sunday Morning reported on Boyle and his house, as have Architect's Newspaper and the Los Angeles Times. Boyle's home also inspired him to learn more about Wright and make the architect central to his novel, The Women, which was published in 2009. A reporter for The Guardian visited Boyle at his home in Montecito, just outside of Santa Barbara. More about Boyle and his Wright home, with pictures, at The Wall Street Journal.

Boyle's Frank Lloyd Wright home. Photo by S. Micke

The reporter's article describes Boyle's house as "a low, spreading, cruciform structure of redwood and glass, built in the prairie style with a Japanese influence, and Boyle's latest novel, The Women, is about its architect. 'I really didn't know much about Frank Lloyd Wright when we bought the house in '93. Living here, I got curious and started reading about him and found out what a bizarre, outlandish character he was, with all this incredible turmoil in his personal life, and I knew I had to write about him.'"

Interior of Boyle's Wright home. Photo: Los Angeles Times

"Architecture is touched on in The Women, but the novel's main concern is Wright's scandal-racked love life and how it was experienced by the four women involved. 'All the events in the book are taken from the newspaper accounts and biographies, and I really put my soul into trying to keep the details accurate,' Boyle says. 'Where the fictional process is at work is when I enter the heads of the characters and imagine what they were thinking, and why they did what they did.' He based his main narrator, a Japanese apprentice called Tadashi Sato, on the many international architecture students that Wright charged for the privilege of doing his cooking and cleaning, and who were required to obey all his commands without question."

T.C. Boyle nonfiction
The Wildlife of T.C. Boyle's Santa Barbara
Inspiration at the doorstep of his Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house
by T.C. Boyle
Smithonsian Magazine, February 2011

from the preface to T. C. Boyle Stories II
by T.C. Boyle
The New Yorker, Oct. 3, 2013

Waiting for the Apocalypse
Fire Season in California
by T.C. Boyle
The New York Times, October 29, 2003

Boyle in Santa Barbara, 2013. Photograph by Jamieson Fry.

1A & 1B: Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

Hemingway Passport Photo, 1923

The New York Times has posted their extensive collection of Ernest Hemingway articles. You'll find links to his life story, book reviews, author commentaries, interviews and audio recordings.

Here's the first paragraph of a July 11, 1999 article summarizing his life:

Hemingway in Our Times

On October 18, 1925, an American writer, not yet turned twenty-six, was first reviewed in The New York Times, whose anonymous critic called his short stories "lean, pleasing, with tough resilience," "fibrous," "athletic," "fresh," "hard," and "clean," almost as if an athlete, not a book, was being reviewed. Hemingway had that effect on reviewers and readers alike. His prose style was dramatically different, demanding equally new ways of describing it. Not more than a handful of the newspaper's readers likely knew the Hemingway name, but the review of "In Our Time" could not have been more propitious.

The above article continues here.

PBS American Masters presents a timeline of Hemingway's life. Another PBS page, this one for Michael Palin's "Hemingway Adventures," is a great place to start to learn about Hemingway. Palin, a formerly of the English comedy group, Monty Python, can be seen here on his "Hemingway Adventures," or search Michael Palin and Hemingway at YouTube

Hemingway was interviewed by the Paris Review for its Spring 1958 issue.  Conducted by editor George Plimpton, Hemingway talks about his writing methods and theories.  

Hemingway wrote often about war. Read "Hemingway on War and Its Aftermath" for a good overview of the topic.  You can find it here.

The copy of In Our Time, above, reports bookseller The Manhattan Rare Book Company, "is a FIRST EDITION, one of only 170 numbered copies, printed on Rives hand-made paper, of Hemingway's second book. With woodcut portrait  frontispiece after Henry Strater."

Published in "Paris [by]: Three Mountains Press, 1924. Tall octavo, original publisher's decorated tan paper boards; custom cloth box. Bookplate on front pastedown. A few spots of rubbing to spine, one corner lightly bumped; boards a little bowed; usual discoloration to endpapers. A very nice copy. $36,500."

It gets better.  As of October 8, 2014, Abe Books was listing a first edition copy of In Our Time for $75,000. 

Yes,  you read that right.  It is not a typo.  $75,000.  The lesson: don't sell your books back to the bookstore.  Unless they are giving you a very good price.

Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn

HBO premiered Hemingway and Gellhorn, with Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, on May 28th, 2012. (It was not a hit with the critics.) Hemingway and Gellhorn met in 1936 and were married from 1940-45.  Gellhorn was a distinguished writer and among the most  important correspondents of the 20th Century, reporting on the Spanish Civil War (alongside Hemingway), the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, and the Vietnam and the Arab-Israeli wars.  Here's the trailer for the film:

Hemingway's Literary and Artistic Influences

James Joyce
from The New York Times, July 6, 1961, Ernest Hemingway speaks of James Joyce, one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century:

"Hemingway was quick to see the merit in the work of James Joyce. . . . In a letter to Sherwood Anderson dated March 9, 1922, Hemingway wrote:

"'Joyce has written a most goddam wonderful book (Ulysses) * * *. Meantime the report is that he and all his family are starving, but you can find the whole Celtic crew of them in Michaud,' (then a moderately expensive Paris eating place).

"Nevertheless, on several occasions Hemingway contributed to the funds raised to aid Joyce, with whom he did a considerable amount of stout drinking in Paris. When Joyce's "Ulysses" was pirated in the United States Hemingway was one of the organizers of the protest which bore the names of many of the most distinguished figures in world literature."

You can read James Joyce's Ulysses here.  It was published in 1922 to much acclaim and controversy.  Regarding the latter, some thought it to be a "dirty book."  Finnegans Wake, a novel that Joyce worked on from 1922 until its publication in 1939, is far more experimental.  Read it here.

"Portrait of Gertrude Stein"
 by Picasso (1906)

Hemingway was influenced by many writers and artists early in his career, among them Gertrude Stein, who was known for her literary and artistic salon in Paris after World War I.  Dennis Ryan examines Stein's influence on Hemingway's early career--she critiqued his prose--in his article "Dating Hemingway's Early Style/Parsing Gertrude Stein's Modernism".  Stein was a fierce experimentalist, and you can read a sample of her work here.

Hemingway wrote about his time in Paris in his nonfiction account, A Moveable Feast.  Alfred Kazin's essay, "Hemingway as his Own Fable," from The Atlantic, June 1964, reviews Hemingway's book and offers some insight to his autobiographical impulses as seen in his prose.
Cezanne's "Mont Sainte-Victoire
 Seen from Les Lauves" (1904-06)
Artists like Paul Cezanne were also important models for Hemingway, who claimed that he made repeated visits to museum galleries to see how the post-Impressionist captured the landscape. While in Paris during the 1920s, Hemingway also came to know Pablo Picasso and would later make a film about The Spanish Civil War, the subject of Picasso's famous "Guernica".

Picasso's "Guernica" (1937)
 portrays the destruction of Guernica, Spain
 by German and Italian bombers during the Spanish Civil War

Hemingway filming The Spanish Earth (1937),
the story of Spain's Republican resistance
 of fascist Gen. Francisco Franco,
 who had the support of Nazi Germany and Italy.
Written with John Dos Passos,
 Hemingway also served as the film's narrator.

The Spanish Earth is a 55 minute film. You can watch it above.

The "real" Hemingway, as he is presented
 in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris."

More "real" Hemingway
 from "Midnight in Paris."

There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

--Ernest Hemingway